But the company decided it needed to focus on self-driving cars.
"We believe having our entire team's energy and expertise focused on this effort is the best path forward," Eric Meyhofer, head of Uber Advanced Technologies Group, said in an emailed statement.
As companies move from r&d to implementation of self-driving services, experts predict that factors such as r&d budgets and engineering talent will force them to target their strategies.
Companies "really have to work on prioritization," said Kristin Schondorf, global automotive and transportation mobility leader at EY. "It is actually good for a company to focus on their sweet spot and determine what that is and excel in that area."
Other companies, such as Waymo, Tesla, Volvo, Daimler and Peterbilt are working to develop autonomous trucks.
The ride-hailing giant's decision contrasts with the ambitious debut of its autonomous trucking project in 2016 when the company acquired Otto, the startup that was later at the center of the legal battle with Waymo, and made headlines when one of its autonomous trucks delivered a load of 50,000 cans of Budweiser beer.
But the company's autonomous ambitions have undergone several trials in the last year. Former CEO and founder Travis Kalanick has described winning the race to build the self-driving car as "existential" for the company. But after a public airing of Uber's dirty laundry during the showdown with Waymo and a fatal accident this year involving an Uber self-driving vehicle, the company's new leadership has tempered the autonomous-driving ambitions.
"Autonomous is part of the solution and I think long term is going to be an important part of the solution of getting rid of car ownership," Khosrowshahi said in April.
The executive suggested an openness to integrating Waymo's technology into its self-driving car fleet, and since then the company laid off more than 100 driver monitors in Pittsburgh with the intention of scaling back its autonomous operations.
Khosrowshahi has instead focused Uber on becoming a multimodal transportation provider, taking advantage of the company's software and ride-matching expertise.
"Understanding where the true value proposition lies and where the strengths are for the company to leverage can really determine the outcome," EY's Schondorf said.
Uber Freight, the company's smart-phone app that matches truckers and shippers, will continue, the company said.
With this shift, the company is signaling that robotaxi operations that use its historic advantage in ride-hailing may be a better use of base autonomous technology than solving challenges unique to freight hauling, including handling the weight load and dynamics of a tractor-trailer on a highway.
"Cars are relatively easy to drive and they're very maneuverable," said Stefan Seltz-Axmacher, CEO of Starsky Robotics, an autonomous trucking company. "Trucks are not that easy to control."
Although several companies developing self-driving technology have dabbled in autonomous truck testing, most have focused significant resources on fleets of small cars.